Apr1420091:32 pm

A talent shift…toward international affairs?

Back in December I looked at an Atlantic piece on what was seen as the potential for, brought on by the economic crisis, not only a redistribution of resources but also a shift of talent into other, “underrepresented” fields (like international affairs).  My question was:

Is it possible that the economic crisis will result in both an influx of new talent and new resources for international affairs (and other underfunded sectors)?

This past weekend’s NYTimes suggests that it might already be happening:

Early indications suggest new career directions that are tethered less to the dream of an immediate six-figure paycheck on Wall Street than to the demands of a new public agenda to solve the nation’s problems.

What will the new map of talent flow look like? It’s early, but based on graduate school applications this spring, enrollment in undergraduate courses, preliminary job-placement results at schools, and the anecdotal accounts of students and professors, a new pattern of occupational choice seems to be emerging. Public service, government, the sciences and even teaching look to be winners, while fewer shiny, young minds are embarking on careers in finance and business consulting.

Maybe I’m wrong to assume that with an influx of new talent will come an influx of resources as well. But even so, I think it’s safe to say that international affairs is included in those fields toward which young, bright minds are gravitating.  And this strikes me as an important phenomenon: a general movement away from placing a premium on jobs that offer high financial rewards to the holder but very few benefits to anyone or anything else and toward placing that premium on any job that provides satisfaction (financial and otherwise) to the holder and offers a socially-redeemable service or product to the public seems to me to be an important cultural shift.


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